My children have an interesting way of looking at a calendar that is inaccurate and yet totally endearing. I can’t explain the inaccuracies in any way that makes sense to them, though I do try. Here is what they say: “Dad is lucky because his birthday is first since it’s in February, and I’m so unlucky because my birthday is all the way in November.” They might say something like this in, say, September, and when I try to say that, right now, they are the lucky ones because their birthday is much closer to now than Dad’s, they stare blankly at me. “Mom, Dad’s birthday is in February,” they’ll say, “which is the second month, and mine is in November, which is the 11th month. Dad only has to wait one month for his birthday, and I have to wait 10.” This is said with a higher degree of disdain than my mother ever would have put up with from her children, but here we are. It is only now that we are in the new year that yes, indeed, Dad is the lucky one because his birthday is closer to now than theirs, and yet they are the ones sitting surrounded by both their birthday and Christmas presents from the past six weeks.

I’m sure child psychologists could guess precise ages based on this stage of reasoning, and these circular and linear comparisons probably have terms in mathematics or economics, but I don’t know them. I’m simply a mother marveling (and laughing) at my children’s quirks. They will outgrow it, and I will miss it, and then I will remind them in a few years that they thought it, and again, they will rain their disdain over me.

Anyway, I heard something similar said about farmers the other day. I can’t remember the exact turn of phrase, but it was essentially that farmers are lucky because their work has defined beginnings and ends – planting and harvesting and a break in between. This is true in essentials but is hardly the whole story, as I tried to explain to the person on my rec volleyball team who made the initial statement of luckiness. I found myself talking in the same way I did to my children about a linear versus a circular view of time. We can only judge how “lucky” someone is depending on the point of time we are considering. No one would say a farmer is lucky when he works 80 hours a week during harvest, yet he is “lucky” because, well, at Christmastime he is tinkering around in the shop. It’s all a matter of perspective and timing and how we view the world. Rhetoric is obviously one of my great pastimes.

I really do find it an interesting discussion to have, though I’d hardly say farmers are unique to the concept of seasonal work, which is essentially what we are talking about here. Many occupations have seasonality about their work – tax accountants, for one, and yet are they ever considered “lucky”? Maybe farming is more linear than other typical occupations like, say, being a marketing manager or a doctor, and yet does that make them any more lucky because they may work less (or not at all) at certain points of the year? The whole argument is by no means objective, and if my child believes they are unlucky because their birth month is 11 and their father’s is two – who am I to argue with them? In the case of the farmers, I ought to ask the experts.

Do you feel like you are lucky because your work is seasonal or, maybe better said, linear?